soph·​ist | \ ˈsä-fist How to pronounce sophist (audio) \

Definition of sophist

2 capitalized : any of a class of ancient Greek teachers of rhetoric, philosophy, and the art of successful living prominent about the middle of the fifth century b.c. for their adroit subtle and allegedly often specious reasoning
3 : a captious or fallacious reasoner

Examples of sophist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Unlike tiresome sophists, Mr. Epstein doesn’t dogmatically define his terms. Thomas Vinciguerra, WSJ, "‘Charm’ Review: The Most Pleasing Personality," 11 Oct. 2018 So why, then, should liberal publications go out of their way to hire polite sophists with boring, bankrupt ideas (i.e. Brett Stephens), or stylish trolls with cruel ones (i.e. Kevin Williamson)? Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "The Liberal Media Can Have Ideological Diversity Without Conservatives," 6 May 2018 Conservative sophists lined up behind this strategy, insisting the Republican method was a completely normal negotiation. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Why Trump Is Using Hostage Tactics on Family Separation," 18 June 2018 In Plato’s most famous dialogue, the Republic, Socrates falls into conversation with the bold and intimidating Thrasymachus, who is a sophist—that is, one who offers instructions on how to argue a case, no matter its merit. Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, WSJ, "Truth Isn’t the Problem—We Are," 15 Mar. 2018 Whether a sophist like Milo Yiannopoulos may speak at a public university like Berkeley is less a question of what the law is than of what the law should be. Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, "How Social-Media Trolls Turned U.C. Berkeley Into a Free-Speech Circus," 23 May 2016 Not even the most shameless sophist will argue that anything like that happened. Hugh Hewitt, The Denver Post, "The U.S. Constitution isn’t a restaurant menu," 10 Mar. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sophist.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of sophist

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sophist

Latin sophista, from Greek sophistēs, literally, expert, wise man, from sophizesthai to become wise, deceive, from sophos clever, wise

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The first known use of sophist was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Sophist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on sophist

Britannica English: Translation of sophist for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about sophist

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